6 Local Leaders You Should Follow During Black History Month

By Lauren Haslett |

… and all year long.

February is Black History Month, and in order to celebrate the culture, history, and knowledge of the Black community, encourage learning and sharing in our real estate community and beyond, and to inspire the support of local Black business owners, creators, restauranteurs, and others, RSIR will be curating a series of blog posts throughout the month, each one with a unique focus. (You can check out our first post of the month, which highlights Black History Month events you won’t want to miss, here.)

This week, we’re highlighting some exceptional local leaders whose vision, experience, and insight have led them to helm a few of our region’s most inspiring organizations and do truly transformative work in their communities. If you’re not already familiar with the exceptional work these leaders and their organizations do to foment positive change, we hope you’ll take a few moments to read up on their efforts, learn about their missions, and show your support.


Andrea Caupain Sanderson, Angela Jones, J.D., Michelle Merriweather, T’wina Nobles of The Black Future Co-op Fund

The Black Future Co-op Fund leaders - group photo.
From left to right: T’wina Nobles, Michelle Merriweather, Angela Jones, J.D., and Andrea Caupain Sanderson of The Black Future Co-op Fund. Photo courtesy of The Black Future Co-op Fund.

The Black Future Co-op Fund is a collective of Black women and community advocates who have experience leading other social change organizations around Washington State. Together, they bring an exceptional depth of understanding, strength, and leadership expertise, learning from and supporting each other as they work to make lasting change at both the local and state levels.

Andrea Caupain Sanderson is currently the CEO of Byrd Barr Place, an organization that provides essential services like food and housing assistance to more like 20,000 Seattle residents. In this role since 2008, Andrea works tirelessly every day to ensure the health and safety of our city’s most vulnerable citizens, as well as to raise awareness about the negative effects of systemic racism on BIPOC communities and advocate for positive change.

Angela Jones, J.D.

The CEO of Washington STEM, Angela knows that equitable access to quality education is essential to the success of all Washington students, especially those who have traditionally been underrepresented in industries requiring a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, like girls and young women and students of color. With more than 25 years of experience working in various roles in public education, Angela has dedicated her life to serving Washington’s students and giving them the tools they need to lead successful lives.

Michelle Y. Merriweather, President & CEO of The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle

The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle strives to empower underserved communities by focusing on five major areas of service: education, workforce development, health, housing, and policy. As this organization’s leader, Michelle draws on her successful prior experience in sales and marketing to now be of service to others, directing the organization’s crucial efforts in advocacy, programming, and coalition building to improve life for all of Seattle’s Black communities.

T’wina Nobles, Washington State Senator for the 28th Legislative District

Going to work every day for members of her district and communities across the state of Washington, T’wina also serves as the President and CEO of the Tacoma Urban League. Centered on work that supports the local Black community in obtaining economic freedom and prosperity as well as social equality, everything T’wina does aligns with the mission of the Black Future Co-op Fund to champion Black well-being and success for generations to come.


Jesse Johnson, Washington State Representative for the 30th Legislative District

Jesse Johnson
Jesse Johnson, Washington State Representative for the 30th Legislative District. Photo courtesy of @jesseelijahjohnson // Instagram.

Jesse Johnson has spent his entire life in Federal Way, graduated with a Bachelors degree from one of our finest local universities, the University of Washington—where he later went on to earn a Masters of Education as well—and immediately got to work on behalf of his community. At 27, he was elected the youngest City Council member in Federal Way’s history, and now as a member of the Legislature, is also one of the youngest representatives to serve at that level. His work is always rooted in social justice and equity, whether he’s focused on preventing youth violence, expanding access to behavioral health services, or addressing the needs of his city’s veterans.


Anthony Kerr, aka @thinkgoodthoughts, Founder of The Collective / Seattle

Anthony Kerr
Anthony Kerr, Found of The Collective / Seattle. Image courtesy of @thinkgoodthoughts // Instagram.

The Collective is a members-only community that creates a safe, vibrant, and inspiring spaces and one-of-a-kind experiences for diverse creators and creative thinkers. Anthony, The Collective’s founder, has a successful career in tech (he’s currently at Microsoft) in addition to his work starting this unique community group. To learn more about Anthony, follow him on Instagram @thinkgoodthoughts, or follow The Collective @thecollectiveseattle on Facebook and Instagram.


Think there is someone else we should include on this list? If you’d like to share the names and work of any other local Black leaders with us, head to our Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook pages and send us a message—we’d love to hear from you!